The Great Halloween TV Tradition

After a long, hot summer, we look forward to sweater weather, splurging on our favorite candy, costumes, and decorating for the Halloween season. And of course, bingeing on some good Halloween-themed TV.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumer spending for this Halloween is forecast to reach a record $9.1B, up from $8.4 billion in 2016. Seven out of ten plan to celebrate Halloween this year by dressing up, handing out candy, and decorating our homes and offices.

Fall is not just for dressing up and eating Halloween candy, it’s also packed with some great annual TV traditions. A cornucopia of cable networks run Halloween themed marathons. Some for a few days, some for the whole month of October. The programming is a treat for viewers, and even better for brands competing for consumer attention and spending at this time of the year.

The variety of programs is as diverse as your kid’s candy stash – take your pick from a classic horror movie, halloween special episodes of your favorite sitcom, cooking shows featuring pumpkin spice, and how to decorate your house to entice those trick-or-treaters and make the neighbors jealous.

We couldn’t discuss Halloween TV specials without talking about one of the most enduring Halloween specials of all time, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The program was initially broadcast on October 27, 1966 on CBS, and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Original sponsors were Coca-Cola, and Dolly Madison snack foods. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, when ABC purchased the rights.

The premise of the show is that with fall in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. In the cold openLinus and Lucy go out to the local pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin. Lucy selects the largest one she could find, and poor Linus has to get it back to the house, only to be distraught when it turns out Lucy is going to gut it to become a jack-o-lantern.

The Halloween mainstay is a ratings rush for ABC. Just a few years ago, “Charlie Brown” commanded 6.28M viewers, and it’s not just Baby Boomers tuning in for nostalgia. Over two million of the viewers were P18-49, a worthy demo for advertisers, and ones who brought their Charlie Brown buzz to Twitter and other forms of social media. Not bad for a special that’s been running for more than 50 years.

Has it been awhile since your last viewing of the classic? ABC will air ”It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” tonight, October 26 and this coming Sunday, October 28 at 8pm ET.


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